The most recommended organized crime books

Who picked these books? Meet our 64 experts.

64 authors created a book list connected to organized crime, and here are their favorite organized crime books.
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Book cover of The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid

Ben Guterson Author Of Winterhouse

From my list on kids suddenly caught up in mysterious circumstances.

Who am I?

I’ve always been drawn to stories that feature mysterious locales and secret objects and strange or magical occurrences, so books with these elements—particularly when the main characters in the books are young people learning about themselves and the world around them—are often very satisfying to me. There’s something naturally engaging, I believe, in tales where someone is thrust into a disorienting situation and has to make sense of the uncertainty he or she faces. The books I’ve written for young readers all tend in this direction, and so I’m always on the hunt for stories along these same lines.

Ben's book list on kids suddenly caught up in mysterious circumstances

Ben Guterson Why did Ben love this book?

This humorous, intelligent tale—about a diplomat’s son who befriends a troupe of young pickpockets in early-‘60s Marseilles—is a brisk read by a writer who cares as much about the rhythm of his sentences as he does the arc of his story. Before our hero knows it, he’s caught up in a life of excitement that begins to make sense to him—until it doesn’t. Full of surprises, including one that walloped this reader as much as it does the main character, this novel navigates a shadowy and unexpected world where young teens talk like seasoned criminals, and friendship itself is a risky proposition.

By Colin Meloy, Carson Ellis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From the creators of the New York Times bestselling Wildwood Chronicles comes an original, humorous, and fast-paced middle grade novel about a band of child pickpockets—imagine The Invention of Hugo Cabret meets Oliver Twist.

It is an ordinary Tuesday morning in April when bored, lonely Charlie Fisher witnesses something incredible. Right before his eyes, in a busy square in Marseille, a group of pickpockets pulls off an amazing robbery. As the young bandits appear to melt into the crowd, Charlie realizes with a start that he himself was one of their marks.

Yet Charlie is less alarmed than intrigued. This…


Book cover of Fallen Angel

Iain Parke Author Of Heavy Duty People

From my list on outlaw bikers.

Who am I?

I became obsessed with motorcycles at an early age, taking a six hundred mile cross-country tour to Cornwall as soon as I’d bought a moped at sixteen, working as a London dispatch rider, and then building my first chopper in my (upstairs) university bedroom and have been fascinated by what I’ve seen over the years of the ‘club life.’ Whatever you think about outlaw biker clubs, there’s no denying it’s a serious lifestyle choice involving real commitment and having serious consequences, but it wasn’t a subject being addressed with serious fiction. So I set out to explore this world and what it would mean to be involved. 

Iain's book list on outlaw bikers

Iain Parke Why did Iain love this book?

When I’m reading about the biker scene what I’m looking for is the reality that underlies the public image and stereotypes. Jerry Langton doesn’t come across as a big fan of bikers but he’s well connected enough to speak to senior players and he’s a professional writer, so what he has to say is very readable, and to me, informative.

Through telling the extraordinary story of five foot four Walter "Nurget" Stadnick’s rise to criminally visionary national president of the Hell's Angels this book provides one of the best overviews of the development of the outlaw biker world in Canada, the Canadian biker wars, and the involvement of biker clubs in Canada in organised crime (although as a niggle it’s crying out for a map).

By Jerry Langton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fallen Angel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One man’s improbable rise to power in one of the world’s most violent criminal organizations. Fallen Angel sheds light on how the enigmatic and dangerous Hells Angels gained momentum to dominate organized crime in Canada.


Book cover of The Girl Beneath the Sea

Nicholas Harvey Author Of Twelve Mile Bank

From my list on female scuba diving thrillers and mysteries.

Who am I?

My wife suggested we try scuba diving while on holiday in Grand Cayman. We were already falling in love with the island, and the incredible experience underwater opened a whole new world to us. From that moment on, our yearly travels changed completely. Our destination choices were now based upon diving opportunities. That was twenty years ago. Today, I’m a certified divemaster with dives all over the US (including Hawaii), the Caribbean (including Cuba), Australia, and even Iceland. Throw in my sense of adventure as a former race car driver, motorcycle rider, and outdoor adventurer, and I had plenty of personal experiences to create the AJ Bailey series.

Nicholas' book list on female scuba diving thrillers and mysteries

Nicholas Harvey Why did Nicholas love this book?

I’d already written several books in my AJ Bailey series when Girl beneath the Sea came out. With the might of a large publisher behind the book it hit best-seller lists and proved to me that I was writing books with a subject matter appealing to a broad audience.

Mayne’s protagonist, Sloan McPherson, is a police diver in Florida, who takes cases much farther than her role suggests. She’s an imperfect person with baggage and problems, but her gutsy determination drives the stories forward.

I dive into each new book in the series on the day they’re released.

By Andrew Mayne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Girl Beneath the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

For a Florida police diver, danger rises to the surface in an adventurous thriller by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Naturalist.

Coming from scandalous Florida treasure hunters and drug smugglers, Sloan McPherson is forging her own path, for herself and for her daughter, out from under her family’s shadow. An auxiliary officer for Lauderdale Shores PD, she’s the go-to diver for evidence recovery. Then Sloan finds a fresh kill floating in a canal―a woman whose murky history collides with Sloan’s. Their troubling ties are making Sloan less a potential witness than a suspect.…


Lethal Legacy

By H R Kemp,

Book cover of Lethal Legacy

H R Kemp

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Buried Secrets. A web of deceit, betrayal, and danger. Can she survive her fight for justice and truth? Laura thought she knew everything about her late husband before he died. Now, her life and the lives of those she loves are in danger. As Laura delves into his previous role in Iraq, she unravels a web of lies and deceit that goes far beyond anything she could have imagined. What was he researching? And why are people willing to kill for it?

Laura turns amateur sleuth. At fifty-nine, she must summon every ounce of strength to expose the truth and navigate a treacherous landscape where the lines between trust and betrayal blur. Every step she takes brings her closer to the truth, but also deeper into the dangerous realm of those who wish to silence her forever.

Can she triumph over the shadows of corruption and finally bring justice to light? Or will she succumb to the deadly grip of those who will stop at nothing to protect their dark legacies?

Lethal Legacy

By H R Kemp,

What is this book about?

Buried Secrets. A web of deceit, betrayal, and danger. Can she survive her fight for justice and truth?

Laura thought she knew everything about her late husband before he died. Now, her life and the lives of those she loves are in danger.

As Laura delves into his previous role in Iraq, she begins to unravel a web of lies and deceit that goes far beyond anything she could have imagined. What was he researching? And why are people willing to kill for it?

Laura turns amateur sleuth. At fifty-nine, she must summon every ounce of strength and relentless determination…


Book cover of Operation Jungle

Sandi Logan Author Of Betrayed: The incredible untold inside story of the two most unlikely drug-running grannies in Australian history

From my list on life’s adventures featuring crime, drugs, and travel.

Who am I?

I learned from a young age to question everything. The law always interested me, but I was an impatient high school graduate who instead completed a journalism cadetship in Sydney, Australia. I always loved police reporting and the ability to get inside the ‘real’ story where few others could. There is a certain pleasure observing the lives of (witting or unwitting) criminals and an element of “there by the grace…” too! I’ve always empathised with the underdog and the Drug Grannies were indeed just that. I believed there was more to their story. Earning their trust was important. I threw myself into their fight – more an activist than a journalist!

Sandi's book list on life’s adventures featuring crime, drugs, and travel

Sandi Logan Why did Sandi love this book?

This is a memoir by a former narcotics agent who writes about a major drug importation masterminded by a combination of crooks and cops (though it is hard sometimes to work out who was who!).

On a broader scale, Operation Jungle also details the high-level corruption which existed in Queensland under disgraced senior police and politicians in league with each other. Shobbrook – as a brave, serving narcotics agent who transferred into the Australian Federal Police – “ratted” on the corrupt police and politicians before the Australian Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drugs, and so sealed his fate.

Australia was not ready for the truth. Instead of treating his evidence with respect, the author was forced out of the Australian Federal Police in 1980. It’s a gripping, thrilling true story.

By John Shobbrook,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Operation Jungle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gripping blend of memoir, true crime, and corruption in the tropics. In the late 1970s, criminal mastermind John Milligan and his associates conspired to import heroin into Far North Queensland via a remote mountain-top airdrop. In a story that is stranger than fiction, it took them three trips through dense jungle to locate the heroin, but they only recovered one of the two packages. When narcotics agent John Shobbrook took on the investigation of this audacious crime, codenamed ‘Operation Jungle,’ his career was on the rise within the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. What he discovered unwittingly set in motion…


Book cover of Worth Dying for

Miles A. Maxwell Author Of Loss Of Reason

From my list on action adventure for Individualist.

Who am I?

I love these books because they hold thinking as the highest virtue, and they value the rights of the individual. I like to challenge the norm. These stories seek to preserve and enhance human life through art and science.

Miles' book list on action adventure for Individualist

Miles A. Maxwell Why did Miles love this book?

Of all twenty-some books (and counting) in Child’s Jack Reacher series, this one stands out. In an interview, Lee once said, "I just wrote this one by the numbers." To me his final solo effort feels like he finally figured out how to say what he always wanted. It’s personal, yet geopolitical. Empathetic, yet very tough. In this tale of two half-cities run by rival gangs, the Armenians and the Ukrainians, he does so simply and brilliantly.

The story’s government is corrupt, as so many are, full of bribe-taking politicians who are unable to protect the citizenry from organized crime. To fill that void, in steps Jack Reacher with some intuitive detecting, a little romance, and a lot of bad-guy killing.

By Lee Child,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Worth Dying for as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There's trouble in the deadly wilds of Nebraska . . . and Reacher walks right into it. He falls foul of the Duncans, a local clan that has terrified an entire country into submission.

But it's the unsolved case of a missing eight-year-old girl that Reacher can't let go.

Reacher - bruised and battered - should have just kept going. But for Reacher, that was impossible.

What, in this fearful county, would be worth dying for?

_________

Although the Jack Reacher novels can be read in any order, Worth Dying For follows on directly from the end of 61 Hours.…


Book cover of Batman: Dark Victory

Kyle Fleischhacker Author Of Bear Serum

From my list on graphic novels for a long, dark weekend.

Who am I?

I’m a writer/artist inspired by a lifetime of reading graphic novels. A visual artist at heart with a BFA in Industrial Design I have worked over a decade in conceptual thinking for research and development in the manufacturing sector. I love the experimentation that breaks the boring norms of industry standards. I wanted to use my talent, experience, and passion to create a sci-fi graphic novel, Bear Serum, and break the medium norms. I wrote and drew it to satiate my own wild ideas in the sci-fi category to push the medium further.

Kyle's book list on graphic novels for a long, dark weekend

Kyle Fleischhacker Why did Kyle love this book?

This is my favorite mainstream graphic novel of the Caped Crusader. Mostly because of the art by Tim Sale. This graphic novel has a special place for me because it is my first experience with Tim’s art. Tim represents style, emotion, and grit through his visuals. I am an art-first comic book fan. I got into writing later as a young adult but art is what drives me to pursue graphic novels. I flip through graphic novels without reading a word first. If it is visually appealing throughout the story, I go back and read the whole story.

Dark Victory is technically Jeph Loeb and Tim’s second Batman novel after but Dark Victory is more polished, feels cooler and the story is smoother.

I suggest that you read this one on a Saturday night.

By Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Batman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is early in Batman's crimefighting career, when James Gordon, Harvey Dent, and the vigilante himself were all just beginning their roles as Gotham's protectors.Once a town controlled by organized crime, Gotham City suddenly finds itself being run by lawless freaks, such as Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and the Joker. Witnessing his city's dark evolution, the Dark Knight completes his transformation into the city's greatest defender. He faces multiple threats, including the seeming return of a serial killer called Holiday. Batman's previous investigation of Holiday's killings revealed that more than one person was responsible for the murders. So the question…


Book cover of Blackfish City

Stephanie Feldman Author Of Saturnalia

From my list on fantastical cities.

Who am I?

When I decided to set my new novel, Saturnalia, in Philadelphia, I was excited to draw on my experience as a native and current resident of the City of Brotherly Love. But I also love magic and the supernatural as much as I love research—my Philadelphia had to be a fantastical one. I drew on real landmarks, real history, and real social dynamics, but added wild festivals, secret societies, and an occult history to create a place all my own. Fortunately, I had a number of fictional fantasy cities to guide my world-building.

Stephanie's book list on fantastical cities

Stephanie Feldman Why did Stephanie love this book?

Qaanaak, Blackfish City’s floating Arctic city, is science-fictional—it’s maintained by artificial intelligence and other futuristic technology—but it’s built with all the world-building care the fantasy reader desires, including a text-within-a-text that explains the city’s origins. What most inspired me, though, is how Qaanaak exposes a city’s class structure, and questions what makes a city worth saving.

By Sam J. Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blackfish City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

***A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST BOOK OF 2018***
***A KIRKUS BEST BOOK OF 2018***

'A remarkable work of dystopian imagination' - Starburst

'Incisive and beautifully written . . . Blackfish City simmers with menace and heartache, suspense and wonder' - Ann Leckie, Hugo, Nebula and Clarke Award-winning author

*****

After the climate wars, a floating city was constructed in the Arctic Circle. Once a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering it is now rife with corruption and the population simmers with unrest.

Into this turmoil comes a strange new visitor - a woman accompanied by an orca and a chained…


Book cover of The Valachi Papers

Marco Manfre Author Of Returning to the Lion’s Den: Life in an Organized Crime Family

From my list on mob stories that tell it like it is.

Who am I?

Growing up in Brooklyn I heard stories about local mafia figures. Now, as the author of several books that deal with crime, I am passionate about good storytelling. I believe that a novel delving into the world of crime and criminals should be fast-paced and believable. Readers have told me that they give up on a book because, in their words: 1. “It isn’t believable” and 2. “It didn’t draw me in.” God forbid that any of the books I’ve written should fall into either of those categories! The books that I recommend are tops in the genre of The Best Mob Books That Tell It Like It Is.

Marco's book list on mob stories that tell it like it is

Marco Manfre Why did Marco love this book?

The Valachi Papers, a 1968 book written by Peter Maas, is the life story of Joe Valachi, a former member of the Genovese crime family, who testified in 1963 before a Senate committee, revealing until-then confidential information about the American mafia. The book was made into a film in 1972, starring Charles Bronson as Valachi.

Maas describes in vivid detail Joe Valachi’s initiation into and rise within a mafia family, frequently relying on Valachi’s own gutsy descriptions. Although it is a biography the book has the verve and pace of a thrilling work of fiction. In many ways better than even a well-written novel, The Valachi Papers is an edge-of-your-seat reading experience.

By Peter Maas,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Valachi Papers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The First Inside Account of the Mafia

In the 1960s a disgruntled soldier in New York's Genovese Crime Family decided to spill his guts. His name was Joseph Valachi. Daring to break the Mob's code of silence for the first time, Valachi detailed the organization of organized crime from the capos, or bosses, of every Family, to the hit men who "clipped" rivals and turncoats. With a phenomenal memory for names, dates, addresses, phone numbers—and where the bodies were buried—Joe Valachi provided the chilling facts that led to the arrest and conviction of America's major crime figures.

The rest is…


Book cover of The Canadian Connection

John Allore Author Of Wish You Were Here

From my list on to fall down a rabbit hole.

Who am I?

I chose these books because a theme in my writing is standing up, and being a champion for things that get forgotten – books, music, events, people. Also, for anyone who has done investigative reporting, the sense is always like you’re going down a rabbit hole and penetrating a dark, undiscovered country. Also – and I don’t think many people know this – I was an English Lit major in college at the University of Toronto. In my early days I did a lot of reading, on a disparate field of interests. 

John's book list on to fall down a rabbit hole

John Allore Why did John love this book?

The Canadian Connection is an expose of the mafia in Canada and its implications for international crime operations. It was first published in French in the mid-1970s and immediately went on to become a national bestseller. There was a time in Quebec when you couldn’t turn the page of a newspaper without seeing an ad with an order form urging you to buy this “Shocking! Chilling!” book that revealed “Names! Dates! Locations!” Jean-Pierre Charbonneau is today considered one of the godfathers of Quebec writings on organized crime. The Canadian Connection is largely forgotten in English-speaking Canada and widely unknown to the rest of the world. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the history of the mafia, and connections to the New York Five Families of organized crime. 

By Jean-Pierre Charbonneau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Canadian Connection as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Text: English, French (translation)


Book cover of The Story of Vicente, Who Murdered His Mother, His Father, and His Sister: Life and Death in Juárez

Colby Ristow Author Of A Revolution Unfinished: The Chegomista Rebellion and the Limits of Revolutionary Democracy in Juchitán, Oaxaca

From my list on “little” stories to tell the big story of Mexico.

Who am I?

I have always believed in the extraordinary capacity of ordinary people to illuminate the contours of any particular place at any particular time. While the time periods have varied, for me the particular place has always been Mexico. Mexico is my aleph – the daybreak and nightfall of my own personal intellectual and emotional development, consisting of seemingly interminable fits of research and writing and huevoneando, each in equal measures and of equal import. Mexico and its history have become my life’s work. I am a professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York, and these are my favorite “little” stories to use in teaching, representing five distinct periods in Mexico’s history.

Colby's book list on “little” stories to tell the big story of Mexico

Colby Ristow Why did Colby love this book?

On May 20, 2004, a relatively “ordinary” teenager and two of his friends murdered his mother, his father, and his little sister. Unraveling the triple murder, investigative journalist Sandra Rodríguez Nieto paints a brilliant portrait of Ciudad Juárez in 2004 – a city just about to become the world’s murder capital. However, even before it became the central battleground for Mexico’s competing organized crime groups, Juárez fostered a milieu of violence, rooted in impunity. In beautiful prose, Rodríguez Nieto argues that Vicente and his friends were practically driven to murder by an overwhelming sense of impunity, which “taught us that any and every savage crime was fair game.” This book is not so much about the so-called “drug war” as it is about the social world it has come to inhabit.

By Sandra Rodríguez Nieto, Daniela Maria Ugaz (translator), John Washington (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Story of Vicente, Who Murdered His Mother, His Father, and His Sister as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Ciudad Juarez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, sixteen-year-old Vicente and two of his high school friends murdered his mother, his father, and his little sister in cold blood. Through a Truman Capote-like reconstruction of this seemingly incomprehensible triple murder, Sandra Rodriguez Nieto paints a haunting and unforgettable portrait of one of the most violent cities on Earth. This in-depth and harrowing investigation into the thought processes of three boys leads the reader on an exploration of the city of Juarez, as well as the drug cartels that have waged war on its streets, in a…